Britain's prime minister vowed on Sunday to take action to better protect women after a national outpouring of grief and outrage over the death of a woman who went missing after setting out to walk home in London earlier this month.

Sarah Everard vigil
Mourners shouted "shame on you" at police Photo: AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS

Boris Johnson also promised several reviews into the policing of a vigil for the woman on Saturday night, after male officers were seen scuffling with and restraining female demonstrators -- further souring the national mood.

Sarah Everard was found dead days after she went missing on March 3. A police officer was later charged with her kidnap and murder.

Sarah Everard vigil
Despite a police ban, hundreds attend a cancelled vigil on Clapham Common, in South London, to pay tribute to 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who was kidnapped and murdered while walking home from a friend's house. A 48-year-old Met Police officer has been charged with Ms Everard's kidnap and murder. Photo: AFPTV / Justin TALLIS

Reclaim These Streets, which organised the protest that was eventually banned because of coronavirus restrictions, condemned the actions of officers "physically manhandling women at a vigil against male violence".

Sarah Everard vigil
Pressure groups and politicians have condemned the police actions Photo: AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS

Johnson, who will hold a meeting of his crime and justice taskforce on Monday to discuss violence against women, said London's police force and a watchdog would conduct separate reviews into the handling of the protest.

"Like everyone who saw it I was deeply concerned about the footage from Clapham Common on Saturday night," he said, referring to the south London park where the protest took place.

Sarah Everard vigil
The murder of Everard has shocked the country and brought discussion around women's safety to the fore once again Photo: AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS

London police chief Cressida Dick, who is facing calls to resign, told reporters her officers had been put in a "really invidious position".

Sarah Everard
Everard vanished after setting out to walk home from a friend's flat Photo: METROPOLITAN POLICE /

"They moved to try to explain to people, to engage with people, to get people to disperse from this unlawful gathering and many, many, many people did. Unfortunately, a small minority did not," she said.

NO. 10 downing street
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner lit a candle for Everard Photo: AFP / Tolga Akmen

Helen Ball, another senior officer, said the force was dutybound to keep people safe.

"Hundreds of people were packed tightly together, posing a very real risk of easily transmitting Covid-19," she said.

But the main opposition Labour party leader Keir Starmer, a former public prosecutor, called the scenes "deeply disturbing".

Four arrests were made for public order offences and breaches of coronavirus regulations, the force said.

Everard's disappearance and the huge search to find her has helped to focus attention on women's safety in public places and the issue of male violence.

She had visited friends in Clapham and was returning home to Brixton, about 50 minutes walk away, when she disappeared.

Mourners once again gathered in Clapham on Sunday to pay their respects and call for change.

"I felt compelled to come here today because it feels like all the women in my life have been really, really affected by Sarah's death," 34-year-old Isabel told AFP.

"I feel like it's a more conscious public awakening."

But one of Everard's friends on Sunday warned that her death had become "hijacked".

"I think my friend would have been unsettled at how her death has been politicised," Helena Edwards wrote in online magazine Spiked.

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